Monday, August 29, 2005

Sailing Scar

As a bonus, I already got my first sailing scar, a hole in my head delivered by a pencil last night when I sat back against the seat where the pencil was lodged against the bulkhead (wall) just above the cusion. To add insult to injury, I missed watching the end of Cobra (with Sly Stallone -- first saw at a drive-in double feature with Tron when I was little, but fell asleep) while Alan cleaned me up and I bled all over. Turned out to be just a little puncture (about the width of a pencil lead) that stopped bleeding after 15 minutes. Either my skull held together, or there was no grey matter to ooze out.

A week in Suva Harbor

Due to numerous techical and meteoroligical dificulties, which I will try to relate below, I've been stuck in or around Suva Harbor for a whole week now.

On the plus side, I feel like I'm ready now to sail solo around the globe with maybe a couple weeks actual sailing practice. And I've been living free and eating well. Not exactly lovo, but good civilized food.

On the minus, it's been raining the whole time and that's another week of my vacation gone. It's the week I would have spent in New Caledonia snorkeling and spearfishing and swimming in the lagoon off of some deserted beach, so I'm bummed about that, but I never thought I'd be doing that, and I will have a month to do that in Fiji when I get back, hopefully.

After 3 days of unfavorable weather, where the captain was in no hurry to head out into a headwind with high seas while it's raining (I don't think it would have been that bad), we got favorable winds and mechanical problems.

One day (Friday), the bilge pump broke, but that was just a rubber seal, easily fixed.

Next day (Saturday), the fuse for the toilet pump motor blew and I clogged the toilet with paper. Apparently that goes out the window, not down the hole.

Then one of the engines stopped working entirely. That turned out to be just a blown fuse too (where a fuze wasnt' really necessary, just a precaution) but we got that replaced to with luck.

Sunday we were ready to go. And we left. After about 1 hour out, I was seasick, but I knew how to raise the sails. While coiling the ropes I broke into a fever sweat and thought I was going to pop, but my stomach held, and either the seasick pill kicked in, or I got over it.

But then, after about 1 more hour, the autopilot went haywire. After an hour of dinking with it, we gave up and turned back. Without an autopilot, it would mean 24 hours at the helm, which would have to be mostly Alan. Sara was no good and I didn't have any experience.

So I took the wheel while Alan fiddled around with the electrics and cursed. Before long, Alan pronouced me a brilliant helmsman*, and that diagnosis has held since then. After 1 hour of that, the autopilot went back to work, and steering became a matter of pushing a little button labelled +1 (or -1) degrees and watching a chart on the computer with our position and course marked on the map thanks to a GPS.

Next day, Monday, the Autopilot wasn't working again. We spent all day troubleshooting and

Right now, after 2 days dinking, and wasting today trying to get someone who claimed to be able to repair autopilots, Alan is trying to get one more crew so we can pilot in shifts. I'm optimistic that the Autopilot will work at least partially at least part of the time. Even so, working 3 hour shifts, with 6 hours off, it won't be so bad, and it will give me a taste for old fashioned steering (with a GPS and computerized chart) though there won't be much time for relaxation or guitar practice since one hand will have to be on the tiller.

Anyway, I've been having fun. But now I need a boat, a plane, and a deserted island before I'm happy; but I think the boat might be the first step. I can live on it, I can use it to find the deserted island, and I can use it to start the tourism business.

Tony, another yachtie we met, who's also brit & comes over for dinner almost every day, has people asking him to take them around all the time. I told him I could book him up as much as he wants and give him $100 a day, which I don't think would be any problem.

*I credited it to my experience flying, and Alan said "Just don't pull back on the wheel."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Who's there

Hopefully I won't be able to find out for a while, but I'm curious who all is reading this. Kelsey mentioned a couple people have read it that I was surprised to find out, and I don't want to write anything bad about someone here if you're reading my letters.

And besides, I'd be curious to know who's there, and though I may not have time to read much even when I do have internet, an email would be interesting to find out what other people think.

Maybe I'll send you a postcard if you include an address.

A new scheme

How about the old hotel wifi idea transferred to marinas and yacht clubs, etc. For a small marina just a home access point would add value to moorages. A captive portal with a strong signal that could be picked up by boats in the bay (a beachfront hotel could do this too) where you could accept credit card numbers directly would be golden. An internet cafe is $5 an hour here. And it's probably comparable the world over. I think this would be sustainable for yachties, or even more considering they wouldn't have to go ashore and they are a more upscale market as well. Directional, and/or higher powered antennas could be rented from the marina.

I could still do hotels, and RV parks, etc. It would naturally fit together. A portal with my own ads combined with local ads would be ideal. Something like this:

- ads by the wifi provider (me)
- ads purchased for the global market from the wifi provider
- ads by the portal (the marina or hotel or whatever)
- ads by local for the local market - shared by the portal provider and the wifi provider
- ads by the users

You could purchase a traveller pass that covers all our wifi spots. You could purchase by the minute/hour/day/week, etc. You could purchase tokens.

you could sell batteries, solar panels, etc., along with computers and yachting supplies.

You could partner with other wifi providers.

Anyway, it's another good excuse to go travelling around the world. And I could write off my yacht.

Tony is taking some American kids out around Fiji tomorrow for a couple weeks. He was up partying last night with tem after he and Alan polished of a liter of brandy last night on our boat. He says he almost fell out of his dinghy on the way back to his boat. He sounds like a pretty cool guy and might be a good contact.

If anyone out there wants to yacht around Fiji, I can book you on his boat. He'll take you diving with sharks, to some local village ceremonies on the outer islands, and find a remote beach to sunbathe from. All for the price of fuel and a bit for his expenses.

I'll sell you a package deal with airfare and hotel before and after your adventure too, though I don't have the survival tour worked out yet.

First Night Aboard

Well, first two nights. I'm still in town.

After shopping with Alan and Sara wednesday, I went back to Tamavua to say my goodbyes and waste time until it was time to meet Alan at the Yacht club. They were still shopping.

Since I was lugging around my laptop in order to upload the pictures of the boat and to be cautious in case Alan decided to leave witout me, I was nervous about walking around town with it any more than necessary. I didn't have much money left anyway, so I decided to go drop the computer off at McGoons first.

I didn't have a chance to get any books (particularly a travel book to Australia, but the wanted $69 here anyway) or oranges. No big deal I decided. I've gone from thinking a month at sea is forever, and how will I keep myself enteretained, to thinking 3 weeks at sea is barely enough time to do anything; I won't even be any better playing guitar after so short a time.

I went to play rugby with dodo and his friends. I'm convinced that rugby, as it is played, has poor strategy, and the rules are too aribitrary. The way we played it, though, was pure chaos. I guess what surprises me most is that there seem to be no refereeing disputes, so the spirit of the game is definitely different than what we consider sports.

There's an empty lot, about half an acre, mostly mowed (or trampled) in the village, that is used to play. Every village has it's rugby field, though most are larger and have st least improvised uprights.

At 5 o'clock I said my goodbyes, "Mothe guys, I'm going to Australia!" I boomed, and ran to get my laptop, wallet, etc. that I'd left at McGoons. I game Sis. McGoon a sweaty hug, caught the second taxi that passed, and was at the yacht club by 5:15.

No sign of Alan.

I called him up on the radio on channel 16, and just as I was repeating it, to my surprise, he answered, "I'll be there in 5 minutes."

So I walked out to the end of the dock, and waited for the dinghy, cutting his travelling time in half. He was there in 5 minutes as promised, and I was shortly about the De Jagter II.

We (Me and Alan) went back to the yacht club for dinner and drinks. Sara stayed aboard. Alan chatted with all his yachting mates, and I watched a bit of "The Ice Princess" and then went over to hear them talk.

It was interesting stuff about charts and weather and which islands are the best in the pacific and how in the last 20 years Bora Bora has gone from a beautiful pristine island where you could anchor in your own private bay to an endless string of hotels and condos and no room to even anchor.

Alan was making noises about not leaving in the morning but Chris, whose yacht he'd delivered and sailed with him a few years ago, said he was leaving in the morning.

We got back to the boat by 8. Sara made Alan a coffee and me a Milo (cocoa) and we watched "Tears of the Sun" on his laptop. The whole logic of the thing was rediculous, the fighting was unrealistic, but there were plenty of explosions, so I enjoyed it.

They turned in and I stayed up reading a bit. When I finally went to my cabin, the diesel smell from the engine wasn't too bad anymore. My bunk was too short to be able to stretch my legs though, which caused some discomfort and a bit of claustrophobia. I didn't sleep to well, and the diesel fumes got worse (but not bad) late in the night. The motion of the boat wasn't too bad and I didn't wake up seasick in the morning, or even particularly tired, though I probably got 5 hours sleep at most.

I went on deck to read a bit and Alan was up almost immediately after.
I find that my ankles and calves need quite a bit of stretching after a night without any. It was a nice clear morning. Alan announced that we would leave be leaving that day, under motor if necessary.

We had a breakfast of Meusli and bread and I had my last orange. (They've got a few.)

We brought the boat in to top off on fuel and water and I swabbed (scrubbed) the deck for the first time. I also had to clean the mud off the Anchor chain as Alan hauled it up (by stepping on a button.)
This was the main reason that the deck needed swabbing.

Alan's taxi driver was waiting at the dock with his two children, a very cute Indian girl in a flowered dress with a hibiscus in her hair, and a son. Alan needed a picture. The cabbie's brother served in the same regiment in England as Alan, and his mother had prepared Roti with curry for our lunch.

Alan and Sara went into town with the Taxi driver after the work was done and I stayed ashore. I spent the last of my Fijian cash on a plate of nachos and a couple of cokes. I also bought for Alan & Sara the last of the lemon meringue pie that Alan had had for dessert the night before and liked. The nachos were fairly good, even with the sweet cream (more like whipped butter with sugar) instead of sour cream.

I took Chris's wife and young daughter (3 or 4) with a load of groceries out to their yacht in our dinghy, though I'd never piloted it. I couldn't find the reverse, so we almost went under the hull of the catamaran before I pulled the choke. She insisted I try again, so I turned the rubber raft around, pulled the cord or the outboard and we were off.

The little girl didn't have a life vest and the seas were pretty choppy for the harbor, but I piloted like a champ (as long as we were going forward) and puttered them out to their 55' catamaran, which was the furthest boat out in the bay.

Just as I got back, Kelsey called and I talked with her until Alan & Sara got returned.

The local weather report looked very favourable with a mild high pressur system off the coast of Australia and a strong low over Tonga (to the east) which was probably the weather that passed over us the night before. It showed good 15-20 knot winds from the east to southeast.

We left about noon.

But stopped off at Chris's yacht for a more detailed weather report, he totally contradicted it saying the winds were blowing from the southwest (the exact direction we were going) and would be for the next two days. So he called it off. At that moment it was pretty dark and choppy too.

I looked at the local map, and the isobars were running west-east and the low was to the west which meant, I thought, that the prevailing winds would be mild from the south, with a bend to the west as approached the low. Which is exactly what it was. The local map had the pressure right, but where their winds came from was anyones guess.

I think I can read a weather chart better than Alan, by the way. A big part of the pilot exam (which I failed) is weather.

We anchored and had the curry for lunch. It was excellent, but I'd just
eaten the nachos, so all afternoon I was feeling stuffed and a bit sick.

Alan and I took the dinghy ashore and scrubbed the algae, etc. off of it and had showers. I nearly threw up while working, but was glad I was ashore.

When we got back, Alan went to his cabin, Sara moved about cleaning and I went on deck with the "Sailing for Dummies" book and not feeling too good. My stuffed stomach and fatigue was reminding me an awful lot of the early stages of my 2 miserable days in the Nadi hotel where I did nothing but sleep and pray for a bowel movement or puke to relieve the tension.

But after streching out on the deck seats and napping for about 15 minutes, I felt better, deciding that it wasn't seasickness, since laying down and closing my eyes would have made that worse. i was still very tired, physically, and feeling bloated with indigestion.

I didn't feel like a dinner, but Sara made me a cup of Milo and Alan went out in the dinghy to invite a young british guy soloing around the paci, Tony, over for drinks and to watch a movie. The movie was Notting Hill, and I think it's Alan's favorites. I think English people are just excited to hear real English accents on the big (or small, in the case of his laptop) screen.

I did feel better after the cocoa, and by time I went to bed, I knew I'd be alright.

I am feeling better this morning, but I don't think we'll be going anywhere today, since we're still pointed southeast, which means northwesterly winds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I'm posting some pictures of the Yacht now, with proof that I'm on it, They're at:

Sorry I don't have any photo gallery software up and working yet. I won't be able to work on that on the boat, either, since I'd need internet to find out how. I wrote one program once, but it only works on the server, which runs Linux, and not on my laptop, which runs windows.

If I were a farmer

While I was walking the other day I got to thinking about how fruit grows naturally around here. And I started to get the urge to become a farmer. Wouldn't it be great to have several coconut trees in your yard so you can knock a green one down and take a drink whenever you feel like it, or pull a ripe one down and use the milk & meat for flavor, or eat the sweet solidified center of an old coconut.

There are also bananas and papayas growing wild around here. Orange and mango trees are also common. President Spencer has a passionfriut bush and avacado tree too. You can keep the dalo and casava (tapioca), but I'd grown potatos and corn.

Wheat and rice and vegetables also grow here, and of course pineapples. Though sugar is the main crop, followed by coconut. They do grow some pine for timber, but I think that would make a very good cash crop. I wonder how redwoods would grow here? It gets plenty of rain, but it might be too warm.

Aboard the De Jagter II

I got up early this morning since I finally had something to do. I was showered and packed and waiting for the bus by 7:00am. At what to my wonder but the first bus stopped, and I was at Tamavua by 7:30.

Tua was the only one up yet, hanging out the laundry. She reminded me that I'd left my plastic (a grocery bag with my breakfast of oranges, rolls, and Tarumba juice.)

I ate silently and got my bags. That woke Dodo up, so he shook my hand and said goodbye, volunteered to help me carry the surf board when the taxi came and went back to bed. He'd been trying to convince me not to go the past few days.

Bro. McGoon volunteered to take me down to the yacht club on his way to work (the opposite direction) when I asked if he has some rope I could borrow. He helped me load up into his (the church's) van (pickup truck.) He didn't like my knot, so he showed me how to cinch it properly. Not too tight, I warned.


I don't think I'll be able to sell the surfboard for a profit now, even after repairing. It's not too bad, but a patch reduces its value by at least $100. Maybe I'll have to keep it now.

As soon as I unloaded, expecting to wait an hour or two, I saw Alan disbark from his boat. So I loaded my gear and waited while they filled with water, gas, etc., and talked to someone Alan knew, whose boat he'd happened to have delivered a while back. Their names were Chris and Carolyn. He's English (I think) and she American (Korean descent) They've got 3 cute little children, Asian looking with blond/brown hair.

We're pulling out of the dock now and heading to customs in a bit. Alan just got the insurance clearance and we're leaving first thing in the morning. I'll stay onboard tonight, but will have time to wander around today, say my goodbyes, and send this letter with the pictures of the boat.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I knew it

Officially, we're leaving Thursday, come what may. We'll see.

I'm going to load my stuff on the boat tomorrow and stay the night aboard to get an early start. Customs at 10:00am.

Today I loaded a bunch of stuff on my computer to study while at sea. I should come back with a better understanding of fast-cgi, xul, nocat wifi portal authorization, (i forgot about getting openRADIUS and openLDAP), and a java testing framework. As much as I could get before my laptop battery died (about 1 hour.)

Or at least I should come back with a tan and a couple fish stories. But in case I get marooned on an island with 110watt 60cycles AC power available, I'll have something to study untill I'm rescued.

This morning I decided to walk from Raintree to Tamavua village. It took a little over an hour, so I reckon it's about 3-4 miles. I got a nasty cut on my ankle in the first 2 minutes from my shoe, which I covered as much ground yesterday with no trouble. I also developed a blister on the same foot on the sole of my instep.

I had no socks and had been wearing the same clothes since Sunday after church (and the shirt since Saturday) since my laundry was all at McGoons. When I got there, no one was home, but my clothes were hanging out to dry, so I exchanged my wet, dirty shirt, for a wet clean one and then put on some damp socks.

A surfboard costs $20 FJD for luggage, I got it in writing (sortof.) I'll try to sell the guitar in Australia, i think, so that I won't have 4 pieces of luggage, unless I put my laptop in my duffle and can have the guitar as a carryon.

I'll be leaving Sydney at 1:00pm on October 5. Who knows when I'll get to Brisbane what I'll do in the time between. I figure I'll have 2 - 3 weeks in Oz.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Not much news

Showed up at the Yacht club at 9am sharp this morning. Waited till noon. Had a plate of chips (fries) and a Schwepps mango tonic. Walked on the dock and saw a decidedly French family encouraging their 12 year old son to stand around in public in his briefs. Read an entire issue of the Economist (dated March 2003, right before the Iraq war -- remarkably prescient, especially about international politics, but of course, did not see the division within America) possibly my favorite magazine (in contention with Surfer Mag and a fantasy hybrid of Cosmopoliton/Reader's Digest/National Geographic.)

Did nothing Saturday, went to Church on Sunday. Sacked out on McGoons couch both afternoons. Set a new high score of 57764 and reaching level 24 on "MegaBox Conquest" (the game on my phone think Tron -- the bikes -- meets Qix and that game mom loved on the C64 with the annoing intro music and the smiley face and spiders.)

More hanging out in the village.

Had Fijian pancakes last night which are like Fry Bread (scones) and delicious.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Another note on music

After listening to alot of Fijian music last night, I remembered that I forgot to add that the slower stuff sounds alot like country with a bit of an island twist. Which may be why Shania's remix is so popular, though I wouldn't consider her very country.

There is steel guitar, which started as hawaiian, but got into R&B, which back then meant country music. And from there to electrical guitars and surf music and rock and roll.

There are also so many words that sound like spanish words that I know (I don't know spanish.)

Oh yeah, and Kenny Rogers is big here too. I was watching the local video request show, and one of the givaway prizes is a Kenny Rogers CD. I've heard "Coward of the County" ("you don't have to fight to be a man...") twice now, and heard someone singing "The Gambler."

Exercising my Lovo muscle

Lovo was good last night (not as good as at the wedding), but I'm missing the rugby game this morning cause I don't know where it is. I went down to Albert park where it's been the last 2 weeks, but no one is there. I have it straight from Christopher's mouth that it starts at 9:30, but there's no one there. The shipping containers are even gone, so I don't think there will be any big games there this week. I could go check out the national stadium, but that will be a long trip if it's not. It's probably half time already.

I was held up at the yacht club waiting for the yachtie last night. I got sick of trying to get a decent price from cabbies and walked about a mile in the rain in my slippers at a pretty good pace and was only 5 minutes late myself. I gave him my info, let him fudge my experiece a bit for insurance purposes (if anyone asks, I've been sailing since I was seven) and found out we won't be leaving till Wednesday at the soonest. I'd expected as much. Now what to do? I have to be in town on Monday for customs, so that cancels any trips again. Oh well.

On the way home (I tricked the taxi into using his meter, knowing it would be even less than my demanded price) I stopped at the store and bought toilet paper for McGoons (since I knew from sad experience they were out) and a bunch of juice (what Sam knows as juice) for the party. Four 2.5 liter bottles of Sprint: orange, raspberry, pineapple, and lemonade. Which instantly put me on everyone's good side. Most people here have a voracious sweet tooth, but they don't indulge it very much because they can't afford to.

There were so many dishes last night, I couldn't name them all, even if I knew the names of them. The floor of the house was covered with mats and banana leaves served as a table cloth (on the floor.) All the men were sitting around the kava bowl and I was invited to join in the ceremony. I sat right next to the father of the guy going to australia to play rugby (the reason for the celebration) and had a good talk with him.

There were a few speeches, by the father, brother, and I think the chief; Mcgoon blessed the food, and then we ate. Or I ate. Most of the men kept drinking grog. I don't know if they ever ate. They were going to stay up all night.

Everyone was amused that I couldn't sit crosslegged. Officially, you're supposed to, but they made allowances for the unflexible palangi.

I think I'm officially adopted into the village now. I gave the kids junkfood; I played rugby with the older boys; and now I've had grog (kava) with the the men.

I had to leave at around 9:30 to make sure I checked into the motel by 10. My friend the security guard was back, so we chatted for a while.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

In other news

Last word was the boat was officially not leaving until Monday at the earliest, and I suspect later. But I got a garbled phone call this morning from the yachtie that asked me to meet him this evening and bring my passport, etc.

I'm on my way there now.

Didn't do a darn thing today, yeah rainy again. If I hadn't got the call, I was thinking about going to Levuka, the capital from the 1800s. Or maybe a 3 day trip to Koro.

Actually, what happened was, I got out of the raintree late, almost 10:00am, and Bro. McGoon drove by. He stopped and I went with him to inspect the church buildings (that's his job) in Lautoka. Then I slept on their couch this afternoon watching national geographic channel.

There's going to be a party tonight with Lovo (I could smell the woodsmoke all afternoon) on account of one of Christopher's teammates is going to Australia to play Rugby Leage.

Tomorrow I'll watch them play. His team is 10-0 and still kindof an underdog, on their way to the championship. It's just the local club league. I guess there's also a national league, where Suva has one team and other towns or small islands have a team. It hardly seams fair since Suva has half the population of the whole islands. And then there's also the national team.

Tadra Kahani

"Tadra" is fijian for "dream" and "Kahani" is hindu for "story." Fiji is about half indigenous Fijian and half Indian, those who's ancestors were brought here by the British to work the sugar cane fields, &tc.

Tadra Kahani is a dance festival where schools compete to tell a story through dance.

I went to watch the finals last night. The primary (elementry) schools competed first and were way cute. The secondary (jr. and high) schools were next, and were kinda boring after the kids. But there was a fierce rivalry in the audience with the biggest Suva school getting the most support naturally.

My favorite was a school was one that broke out in kung fu fighting between the christians and muslims. It featured all kinds of costumes representing different cultures. A close second was the one with the food theme, "ending poverty and hunger" where there were little boys gyrating dressed as dalo (taro) plants, the staple here, though I didn't get that they were holding what was supposed to be dalo leaves until the end.

Of course most acts also had kids dressed in traditional costumes waving spears or doing indian dances.

It was sponsored by the UN, and so each dance had to have one of 8 officially sanctioned political themes. Not surprisingly, the winners were the ones that were most on message, the messages being most favored are HIV/AIDs (it is celebrated like a fetish plague by some people. Not the locals, the intellectuals recieving billions of dollars to spread "awareness" -- whatever that means) and evironmentalism (the message being that any kind of progress is bad for the "environment" -- whatever that is.) The environmental message stood in ironic contrast to the ending poverty and hunger, and the provide clean water themes.

The opening act was particularly disgusting when they had primary school students suggest that unprotected sex was occuring -- complete with death dancing among the couples, but then the children dressed as condoms came on stage everyone was free to copulate joyously.

For the primary schools, the AIDs and environmentalism messages tied for first, and for the secondary schools, one that combined all eight messages won, with what was also by far the most enthusiastic and fun dance for the older children, but also included dancing condoms.

It was disappointing to see the filth of that bizarre religion has reached even here. I don't see why they needed to take the UN money, the event was definitely self-supporting (despite the protests of the MCs that it was not) with a stadium of 5000 people paying $7 each and plenty of local sponsors.

Despite all that, it was quite entertaining. And you could easily forgive the children for the indescretion of their elders.

Sorry, I didn't mean to make this such a tirade. I'm not really a moral crusader. It really was nice except for a few bits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The cost of a surfboard

Is either $60 or $80 australian, depending on how far I go, flying Qantas. Maybe I should have got a ticket from Brisbane, to make the trip alot shorter.

More notes on fijian grammer

A refresher on vocab:

"Bula" -- Hello, life, good, etc.
"Moce" -- goodbye
"Vinaka" -- Thank you, your welcome, good, etc.
"Set" -- Okay, No thank you, Done, etc.
"Io" -- Yes
"Sega" -- No

And pronunciation:

"C" is pronounced as a soft "th" as in "this" but not "thin"
"D" is pronounced as "nd" almost always
"B" is pronounced as "mb"
"G" is pronounced as "ng" as in "singer" but not "finger"
"Q" is pronounce as "ng" as in "finger" with the g voiced. It may sound as just the "G" at the beginning of words.
"R" is rolled.

All other consonants are as expected.

Vowels are typical spanish style.
A is ah
E is eh
I is long E
O is oh
U is oo

AU as in out
AI as long I
OI as in boy
OU as long O

With some new words:

"Chilo" -- excuse me, pardon, etc.
"e vica" -- (eh vitha) -- how much, either price or quantity

1 dua
2 rua
3 tolu
4 va
5 lima
6 ono
7 vitu
8 walu
9 ciwa
10 tini
11 tini ka dua
20 rua sagavulu (sang-a-vulu)

A "bula" shirt is a hawaiian shirt.

"grog" is the local drink, "kava" which was becoming a popular "herbal" supplement because it get's you mildly high, until people started dying from the concentrate.

A "palangi" or "valagi" is a white man.

shoot, I forgot the rest.

What I was going to write to my dad, but deleted

I guess my biggest regret is the time and money wasted here. And how the people, for the most part, are the problem, both from my perspective, and their own. There's alot of potential in this place, but honestly what it needed was some conquistadores, not some bleeding heart missionaries.

Another rainy day

in Suva. Though it's clearing up now, I don't have much to do anyway.

Tonight I'll go to the Tadra-Kahani dance competitions and cultural etc., etc. Till then, I'll make a few more notes on the blog. I have to stick around Suva to clear customs tomorrow morning, then I'll have a day or two or three or more till we leave. So I can't really do much, though truth is, there isn't much I want to do around here.

I remembered last night why I'm so bummed is because I didn't come here for a vacation or for a rest or even an "adventure". I wanted to accomplish something and then it was only when I realized it wasn't feasible that I decided to just have fun. But the type of fun I want isn't spending a week at a hotel sunbathing. And sightseeing by yourself is boring.

I really want to be building something. A house or a boat or a business. Doing something constructive. Constructive is not what Fiji is. You can only waste money here. That's fine if you can afford a private island, or if you just want a week or two away from a cold city to do nothing but soak up the sun.

Sometimes I'm self conscious about what I write in here, since I now realize that there's actually an audience, and its more than just kelsey and sometimes my mom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A note on music in Fiji

I've been meaning to do this post for a while now, but hadn't got around to it until now, a rainy day with nothing to do but spend money on internet.
The local music has a natural island (caribbean) bent, with the indigenous Fijian language music sounding somewhat reggae/calypso with a tejano bass line, but not with a tuba, a bass or keybard. The indo-fijian music is mostly the typical indian stuff, which seems to have more of a hip-hop/r&b flavor these days. Aiysha, who happens to be from fiji, is a crossover artist. Think Shakira in Bollywood. Her signs are plastered all over in anticipation of her upcoming stops in Fiji on her tour. She's Coca-cola's Indian face the world over.

But mostly people listen to America music, or derivatives thereof. Probably the most popular song in Fiji these days is a remix of Shania Twain's "Forever and for Always" with an almost reggae beat. There are several remixes or reinterpretations around. I've heard native (from somewhere, not necessarily Fiji) covers of John Denver, the Beatles, and various samples.
People appreciate a good simple melody or unique sound, which they will love to sample.
UB40 is the most sampled band by far. There are many songs or just mixes that will take a sample or the whole beat or even a line or the chorus and then rap to it. Also, the UB40 originals quite popular. Not only the classics from Labour of Love I & II but some new stuff as well.
Chris deBurg's "Lady in Red" is another favorite over here. As well as some other oldies.

There are several island style covers of old country songs. I've heard Alabama once or twice as well.

Another popular song is a cheerful R&B/rap song where the refrain includes the line "from Senegal West Africa to New Zealand" by which I'm guessing an african immigrant from the aforementioned locales is the artist.

Hip hop is of course also big. Snoop Dogg's "Drop it like it's hot" being little Vika's favorite.

I hopefully dispelled some of the local boys' notions about "gangtas" while chatting last night while playing rugby in the vacant lot at Tamvua village.

The gorillas' new song has got a lot of airplay, and I like it too. Though people here consider it hip-hop, which no one back home would, even if the dude from Blur thinks he is now.
Oh yeah, and Kelly Clarkson gets plenty of air play.

Another correction

don't know if I clarified this but the yachtie is actually a britisher, not an aussie, and not an afrikanner; and his girlfriend from colombia, not china or the philippines.

Marking Time

I was torn, this morning, between stopping at McGoons to drop of my back and hang out my towel and going straight into town to get some breakfast, and especially a donut. Since there was a possibility no one was home, and since it's a rainy day again, I went into town. But instead of going to my favorite bakery, I stopped at the MH (Morris Hedstrom, the island's leading grocery store that goes back to the 1800s as a trading post named after it's founder) to get some fruit and saw an indian couple order some cream buns -- essentially a plain bun filled with a scoop of sweetened, whipped butter.

I should have got the donut.

I sat in the market watching pedestrians pass and ate an unripe pear, the cream bun, and some semi-sweetened grapefruit juice. I received a lingering scowl from a pretty indian girl, I don't know why.

So anyway, it feels like I'm just marking time for another week waiting for the yacht to sail, which I'm betting won't be till Monday or even Tuesday. They're in no hurry, and I'm in no position to rush them, and I empathize with their carefree scheduling. But it means several days in Suva with nothing to do. I might rent a car and go to the Coral Coast, but I have to be back on Friday to clear customs and I'm essentially on call from Saturday night on.

I'm planning on watching a netball (girls basketball where they're not allowed to dribble) game tonight and a dance competition tomorrow (thursday) for the secondary (high school) students, but those are short evening activities and not particularly thrilling.

I guess the price of a trip to Australia is another week wasted plus return airfare.

I'm really anxious to go to the outer islands. I'd especially like to go to Kadavu and build a small boat and putter around the many bays just exploring, fishing, and camping out, and maybe find a couple surf breaks. I should be able to do that in october, and Laisa and Masi's relatives could probably serve as a base. Dodo was going to go with me if we went next week, because he's starting his two weeks break then. That'd be perfect and give me two months to do it, but I'm going to Australia instead, and then I'll only have like 3 weeks when I get back. Not even enough time to build the boat. Plus, I'd still like to see Taveuni, the garden island and go diving; and Yacata, the really small, really remote island.

Monday, August 15, 2005

It's back on

Just got an email from the yachtie. It's back on again. Leaving (circa) Sunday.
So I'm looking for airfare and I can get a ticket for $127 US from Brisbane or $130 from Sydney to Nadi but I don't want to enter my credit info at a cyber cafe.

This cafe is super slow.

I just need to figure out if I can take the surfboard. Anyone want to find out the policy (& price) for Air Pacific or Qantas?

And then decide which airport and what day. I'm thinking maybe Sydney on Oct 5, and then rent a car and drive down the coast. But I'm open to suggestions. Tell Mike I'm going to Oz.

Donuts and Swordsellers

I think I've figured it out. Every time I have a donut, I get approached by a sword seller. Sword Sellers are stupid guys who try to be friendly but are just trying to sell you junk souvenirs. They do it by asking your name and then carving it on a stick painted black and telling you that you have to buy their sword. They also have other things like cheap made in china masks that looked they were carved by a ten year old in fifteen minutes. I really want to lead on on enough so that he defaces his property with an outrageous name and then walk away.
Anyway. Last night I was too late and when I tried to get a room at the Raintree they were closed. (They close at 10:00pm for future reference.) So I went back to McGoons to try to stay there. Dodo said he'd give me the bed, but when I got there no one would answer the door. I tried calling the phone, and heard it ring from their doorstep, but they are all sound sleepers.
I contemplated curling up on the curb in from of McGoons, but decided that would be pathetic, so I called a cab and asked if he knew where any hotel that was still open (after 11pm) was. He wanted to take me to Tradewinds, which is actually a dump, and all the way in Lami, by the real dump whose scent greets you as you pull into town. And it's $84 a night. And he'd probably want to charge like $15 cab fair. And I'm sure it would have been closed.
Tradewinds is the same co. that does the timeshares all over.
So I found a spot in town. It was $56 because they were all out of cheaper rooms. Oh, well, they do have a spot for $52 and breakfast is free.
This place was a dive. Tradewinds would've been nicer. I doubt anyone but locals stay there. I had to ask for towels, and they were closer to sheets than towels. But it did have a TV with a blurry australian soap opera and TBN, my favorite christian network.
Breakfast was two cold, dry pieces of toast, some tea, and a huge slab of butter & bowl of unrefined (think light brown) sugar. I was delivered to the room at just before 7, long before I felt like getting up. I ate the toast anyway and watched a televangelist who actually had some interesting points about Islam, though delivered in a caustic manner.
I walked into town, since it was on Waimanu road by the Hospital, not a very far walk, determined to get my shoes repaired (he's working on them now while I'm using loaner flip flops. I anticipate he's going to try renegotiate the price and to force me to buy the flipflops too.
I looked at some used jackets for $40-50. Got a donut, looked at a couple other hotels. One, the Annandale Apts is $50 a night for a nice room, but it's still in a bad part of town. If they had a discounted monthly rate & internet, I'd consider it (if I end up staying monthly.)
By the way, I still haven't heard from the Yachtie. I went at 11-1130 yesterday, 400-530, and then had dinner at 7-8. I left an email and called up his boat on the CB several times while I was there. Looks like I may not be going to Australia after all.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Happy Birthday Kelsey

Here are some photos.

Let me know if this is a good size. I was hoping to have a picture of the yacht but he wasn't in when I went there. I'll try again later this afternoon. My computer's dying now, but now I can compose before sending and come in and connect and save time that way.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Back to Suva (quickly)

Caught a minibus at 9 (for $16) to Suva -- dropped me at Tamavua village. It was a pain hauling the surfboard, got a small ding. It was much harder carrying it in the rental to the hotel though.

Got to McGoons at noon. Neighbors said they were at the park watching Christopher's rugby game. I left my surfboard and guitar on their front stoop and caught a taxi ($4) to albert park downtown. $5 to get in and caught the second half of the game. They (Ports) won. 14-10.

Walked back with Dodo after watching an under 21 game with him and his friends. Had juice and rotu curry (curried chicken and potato in a lefsa-like wrap.) Mucho Bien.

I was tired through the second game. And it wasn't that exciting anyway.

Dodo played with the surfboard and I played with the guitar. They're celebrating and I'm going now.

Fijian Wedding

This is cut and pasted from the "shopping list" post. I realized I'd slipped into a narrative. But I don't have time to describe the wedding properly.

I called Laisa. The wedding was at 3, so I walked back from town to the hotel (about a half hour sinc I was wearing shoes) and then I just jumped in the pool, which is a nice little saltwater pool surrounded by ugly britishers sunburning.

While drip drying, I read my book "Wild Life among the Pacific Islanders" and realized that my experience wasn't that different from a stranded sea captain in the 1800s.

I only had a half hour so I couldn't burn like the brits. I caught the hotel shuttle (which is supposed to be free, but usually overcharges, more than a taxi.) to the village turnoff, but he wouldn't take me any further. So I had to catch another minibus to the village and got there right at three.

The girls were still doing (straightening) their hair, so I sat and did nothing for a while until I won Vika over (this is the one Kelsey should be jealous of. She's younger than Eden, but cuter.) So we ended up playing tag, etc. for about an hour until the wedding finally started.

There was a massive crew preparing the lovo. Boys scraping coconuts, women fixing all kinds of stuff, wood fires to heat the rocks and cook the stuff that wasn't going into the lovo. A guy painting the walls inside the house.

It was a methodist church. Fairly humble, but they'd decorated the yard very nicely with a pole pavilion and tin roofs over the tables which had tablecloths with masi designs. Masi is the traditional bark cloth with brown and white patterns stamped in it. The wedding clothes are made of masi and I have some pictures.

Not to be confused with Masi, who kept ushering me around from one place to another, saying, "Come, my Aarrrron" (trilled r) anytime I was more than two steps behind.

To Vika I was AlAl -- to Moses I was Annann.

So I sat through a blessing of the groom by his mother (I think) and an old preacher lady with grey hair and a quite respectable white beard who was dressed all in white. She was reading from the bible at times, so I didn't have to fear being added to the lovo.

I met Laisa's friends and family, but lost track. Suzie was the one getting married. And her best friend was the tall skinny one. Their mom had red hair. She's Masi's elder sister. I'm not sure who the dad was, but the grooms dad is dumb -- a mute.

So they lathered up the boys (groom and best man) with johnson's baby oil and put on the masi. Eventually the cerimony started with speaches by the (male) preacher (i think) and justice of the peace (I think) -- he wore what looked like a navy uniform. Maybe Assemblies of God dressses like that.

It was a Methodist church, but I think Laisa said they were something else, like maybe AoG.

So right before the vows, my phone rang. It was the yacht captain apologising for being late. (I told him I was still in Nadi for a wedding, and sent an email in the morning, but I guess he didn't get the message.) We rescheduled to meet Monday.

After the ceremony was the giving of the Tabua (tambua, or whale's tooth) from the bride's family to the groom's father. Essentially they are giving her to them as her adopted family and forgiving them for their son stealing her daughter. I might not have that quite right.

Oh yeah, Fijians go through the same long handshaking ritual that everyone else seems to.

Then there was the dinner. So good. I exercised my Lovo muscle quite well. It's getting bigger.
Dalo tastes soooo much better when it's got woodsmoke flavor.

There was a fish salad or something that was great too.

All the girls (who weren't married that day) wanted to go dancing at the nightclub, they dragged me, and then finally everyone changed their mind and didn't go. I was back in bed before midnight.

I had an ice cream cone at McDonalds.

Shopping List

Yesterday morning I went shopping. Here was my wish list:

Flip Flops
Rain Jacket
Surf Board
Return Rental Car

I got everything except the rain coat.

Shorts (2 pair) $55 -- 1 with lots of pockets good for traveling with wallet, passport, phone camera, change, etc. And 1 like I like, almost like swimming/board shorts with drawstring and pockets and easy to dry.
Flip Flops $1.75 -- broke after 1 day's use
Surf Board $250 -- about the same as my board back home 7'6, narrower but thicker with glassed on fins. Like new.
Leash $30
Wax $8
Sprite $1.20
Guitar $150
Soft Guitar Case $20

I went to the surf shop, found the board, although I wanted a smaller one, the next size they had was 6'3 and it was an older one for more money. I figure I need at least 6'6 to keep me afloat until I lose some weight. I needed to get cash, and so I went shopping too.

A guy trying to sell drugs or mug me kept following me around, trying to be my friend. Finally I went into a "fancy" store where they kicked him out. I bought the shorts in gratitude, though I needed at least one pair anyway and they wouldn't give me a deal on the swimshorts which they were asking $40 for.

I got the guitar too, since it was $150 and I'd like something to do in my idle time sailing. Both the guitar and surfboard I figure I can sell for more than I paid, though I don't think I can take them both back with me. I'll try to sell the board in Australia, though I'd like to use it in Kadavu when I get back in October.

Since I've been sick I find I like Sprite more and Papaya less.

I took the stuff to the Nadi Bay Hotel since Wailoaloa tried to tell me the dorm was full. Those people are snakes. Then I hurried the rental car back to have it returned by 1:00.

Taking Notes

Sorry for the disjointedness of the last (and next) few posts. I don't know how to fit it all in, so I'll just write it like I'm taking notes. Maybe I can put some semblance of order on it later, but I'm trying to get done before it gets dark so I can get home.

I wasn't planning on coming in, but the boys are out drinking rum and smoking ganga, so I didn't want to be apart of that. And I was feeling like I'd like to read a letter or two.

One more

The village is Nasoso or something like that.

Another Correction

It's Lie-sah, not Lee-sah. Mrs. McGoon says her full name is Laisani. And Dodo (who's name is Josese) says she's ugly.


It's mela, not malu.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Two Kisses

Just as soon as I got done typing my last entry, I call a call from Sis. McGoon:

"Aaron, did you leave yet?"

It was twelve-thiry, I'd told her I should be back by 11:30, and the girls were afraid I'd left them. The girls I was taking were her cousins, Masi and Malu (I need to check that name. I'm always scared of getting some word or name wrong and cussing, since Motete taught me a swear word and it sounds similar to goodbye, "moce") and their little niece, Vika, who is is two or three.

I picked up the girls, called the real estate developer to arrange our meeting time, and we were off. Tete cried.

All the little boys in the village will be sad to see the car go, since they thought it was a racecar. They come up and touch it and look and smell inside every time I come.

Since Mrs. McGoon won't tell me what I can buy to contribute for dinner, I've started buying desert and juice (cokes.) I had a bag of chips the day before yesterday and gave it to the boys in the village. They quickly dispensed with it, and I had to beg to taste just one chip. Yesterday the ones that were too small for school got their first taste of football, since I passed it around, gently since they'e only 3-5 years old. One of them know how to throw a football, and if not passing spirals, at least not ducks.

A little under two hours after leaving Suva, we reached the Maui Beach property, just past teh Warwick & Naviti resorts and just before Hideaway, which supposedly has a good surf break. There are a quite few very small surf breaks along the Coral Coast where they find breaks in the reef. They are typically very narrow, only one or two hundred yards out and usually quite narrow and shortlived, but averaging about 4' high. Hideaway is longer and stronger, but I only got a look at it from a distance at one of the properties for sale.

All the prices have gone up again, so a nice ocean view on a steep hillside runs around $100,000; a little more or less depending on the lot. That seems pretty overpriced, since it's in the middle of nowhere in Fiji, but it is right in the area of several high prices resorts. I think a good property on the outer islands with a truly spectacular view at a lower price might be a better investment, but it would definitely cost much more to develop since you have materials, semi-skilled laborers, and heavy equipment available of Viti Levu, that wouldn't be possible on the outer islands. Power, phone and internet are also available most likely only on Viti Levu, or maybe Vanua Levu.

I took some pictures of the properties, which would probably be good investments, even at that price, but I don't think I could do it on my own, because a payoff on holding the land would take a long time, and I don't quite have enough to build on it with my own reserves. Especially if I include living expenses.

I uploaded all my pictures yesterday, and deleted them from my camera, but I also deleted the ones I'd taken of Motete crying right before I left. Or tried to. He'd cry until I pulled out the camera, and then laugh. As soon as I start to walk away, he'd cry again.

"Moce, Tete. I'll be back tomorrow."

Only it looks like I won't be back till Saturday.

I dropped the girls off at Nosoto village just north of Nadi airport -- we had an adventure finding the village. Apparently they didn't know where it was either. They are both from Kadavu and are there for their cousin's wedding.

When we finally found it, they said thank you and goodbye.

Masi said, "I love you Aaron."

I said, "I love you too."

She said "I have to kiss you," and she gave me a kiss on the cheek.

If Kelsey's not jealous yet, wait.

I went to the hotel and ordered dinner and checked in to the dorm. I asked about my laundry bag and shorts. They gave up my bag reluctantly but could not produce the shorts. I didn't make a fuss about it, but I persisted. It will cost me $25 to replace them, and I'll have to get board shorts which I don't like because they don't have a good drawstring and are uncomfortable for sitting, or swimming trunks, which are too short. Or rugby shorts, which don't have pockets.

I had pasta with chicken sauce which turned out to be half-cooked thick spaghetti noodles with chicken (?) hamburger spaghetti sauce from a can that was way too sweet. Two out three bad meals for Wailoaloa. But the chicken sandwich was so good; or maybe it was just the first food I'd eaten in two days after being sick.

While waiting for dinner, I got a call from brother McGoon telling me that the girls wanted to invite me to the wedding tomorrow. A while later, the phone rang again and I thought it was Masi calling to invite me. No, it was her niece, Lisa (pr. Leez-ah) asking me if I wanted to hang out that evening. It was a very confusing call and at one point she was going to catch a cab to come have dinner with me, when eventually we agreed that I was too tired and I would see her tomorrow.

After dinner, I prepared to go to bed early, but decided to call back, because a Fijian wedding could be interesting, and possible a good way to pick up chicks, and besides the girls I'd driven over were from Kadavu and I wanted to visit there for the surf, but not pay the outrageous [reasonable] Nagigia (pr. "nangingya" with almost no vowels) rate of fifty dollars a night dorm plus $7.10 surfing fee plus $32 meal plan, plus travel.

So I called back, found out there was the festival in Nadi town, and Lisa wanted someone to take her. I agreed and said I'd be right over, hoping to make a short evening of it. She said to give her a half hour to get ready, so I took a shower and did my laundry in the sink, since I'd only brought one day's change.

I got lost a couple of times trying to find the place at night. I knew the way, but I made some wrong turns. Finally, about 9:00 I saw Masi and another girl on the side of the road.

With hardly any introduction, the girl plopped down in the passenger seat. I assumed this to be Lisa and introduced myself. Masi said she was staying, so we drove off.

Now every village along the highway has huge speed humps to slow traffic down. We bottomed out several times, even going less than the required 20km/h which is about 1/2 mile an hour. The national maximum speed limit is 80km/h, somewhere around 35 mph, and most of the time the condition of the road makes 60k/h a bit of a risk.

Nosoto has potholes instead of speed humps. It's just off the airport road, on a gravel road, but the holes make it painfully slow and dangerous for oilpans and transmissions and driveshafts, etc. even at a crawl.

So anyway, me and Lisa went to the festival. It's a small carnival with a lot of food booths and kava huts. People in the kava stalls sing:

"Come have some kava"
(which I interpret as "don't mind if I do.)

Vinaka means thank you and your welcome among other things. You can get by passably well with "bula" -- hello , "moce", -- goodbye (remember 'c' is a soft 'th' sound), "vinaka", and "io" -- yes. 'sega' (senga) means no, but why would you ever say that? In Kadavu, Lisa taught me, they have another word for no, which I don't remember, but it might be "mosi".

Finally, I talked Lisa into going on the big ferris wheel -- which goes quite fast and swings you backwards going down so you're tilted back more than 90 degrees. We had a blast, and I think she was more scared than me, until I realized there's probably nowhere near the safety precaution involved that would be in the states. And it did look quite rickety. I told her that if it crashed, at least we would be in the papers.

We had a cotton candy, called 'candy string' but we both only wanted a taste. It tasted like molasses. We agreed to find a little child to give the remainder to and were rewarded by seeing his eyes light up and nearly burst from their sockets.

After walking around a bit --it was a small fair so we saw everything twice-- we went home and that's where I got my second kiss. If Kelsey's not jealous yet, wait until she sees Lisa's picture, because she's quite a beauty.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


It's a sunny day, not too hot, and I found a parking spot downtown. I'm going to take a couple of gals to Nadi today as soon as I'm done here.

Last night the Raintree was full, but for $2.50 more I got in the "small dorm" which turns out to be twice as nice, having tiled floors, a TV, kitchen, chairs, and clean(er) sheets. The bathroom is accordingly nicer too, though the hot water only lasted for 10 seconds and then was off for two minutes, then on again. So I had a long shower. There were womens underwear strewn all over, but I didn't see any women come to collect them.

This morning I stopped at McGoons to get my laundry. It was all done, folded, and even pressed. I uploaded all the pictures to my computer, so I can delete them from my camera and mess with them later. They take up a lot of space though. Like a gig for 186 pics at 5 megapixels. I don't know if that works out. As you can see from the sample, only about 10% of my pictures are worth keeping at all.

But I should have a lot of time to mess with resizing them on the computer, because it looks like I'm sailing to Australia.

After stopping at the Australian High Commission (embassy) this morning, and waiting like at the DMV, I got an EST or whatever. A visa. I asked the lady what was needed, and she said just give me your passport and wait for me to call your name. 25 minutes later (after watching Fijian parliament on TV) I had the deal. Free of charge. So Australia's cool again.

By the way, it looks like the yachtie is South African, not Australian. He's on his umteenth trip around the world. The actual owner of the Yacht (a 30 something foot catamaran called something like "De Jatger") had to fly home to take care of business. I guess that's what you do on around the world trips anyway. Park the boat and fly home every once in a while and take a few years completing it.

We talked for a few minutes while he loaded up with fuel, I helped him fill the spare diesel cans and water, hauled out the trash, went through what a typical day would be, and he said he's satisfied. He's interviewing one other guy, and we'll meet tomorrow at 4 for beers at the yacht club.

He's got computers on board and hopes to use my skills for something. So I'll take mine, and some books to keep me occupied. I'll work on a consulting website, and keep a journal that I'll try to upload when we stop. He's got a bit of fishing tackle, a rubby dinghy and a little plywood boat called "firewood." I'll probalby take all my stuff. I need to get some more shorts if I can't get my other pair back, and he says to pick up a waterproof jacket in case of squalls.

Now I'm going to go look at a property on the Coral Coast, drop the car (and girls) off in Nadi, and take the bus back here tomorrow morning. I'll try to get some pictures of Fiji before I go, but I'll still have a couple weeks to a month left when I get back. Hopefully hit Kadavu, Taveuni, and the security guard's home island of Yacata.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Visa Requirements

Australia now requires a visa or Electronic Travel Authority, which costs $20.

In other words, there's a $20 tax to visit Australia. Fiji charges a departure tax of something like $15, but they're not jerks about it.

New Caledonia (French Territory) and Vanuatu are cool for up to 30 days.

back at the internet

What else to do on a rainy day?

Actually, I'm here to research visas. I had lunch at the Yacht club but didn't meet the guy. Thinking this interview's going to be a two way process. I don't want to be cooped up for a month with someone I can't stand either.

Stopped by the Australian High Commision, but they were closed by noon. Went to McGoon's to put my laundry in but she'd already been in and out and done it for me. I told them, they should open a hotel. They've got the hospitality down.

Probly play rugby in the rain today if I get back in time. Barefoot. On rocky ground.

If today's the 10th and the yachtie leaves on the 18th then if I get back Saturday could still spend a couple days in Kadavu. If I'm going to Australia, I might as well buy that surfboard if there's room to take it.

From a letter to Kelsey

I am having a hard time and missing you, but I knew I would reach a tough spot, and decided to show it instead of wait it out because I'll remember it better that way and nothing helps you stop feeling sorry for yourself better than demonstrating to everyone that you're feeling sorry for yourself.

I figure I'd set aside $5000 to blow on this trip even if nothing works out, and at my burn rate that was still over a month, and at the very worst I could come back to my job and save that in less than a year. So I decided to blow through the whole ten grand (the other five reserved for when it works out) and have some memories if nothing else, though I don't really need the memories and I'd probably forget them anyway if I didn't put them in the blog.

Reconsideration reconsidered

Well, I think I'm over the doldrums from inactivity, though I've still spent far too much so far. I'll be looking at some flats to rent today, but now I'm not sure if I should get one. I've got (tentative) plans to go to alot of islands, and I just got email back from the Australian yachtie. Nothing definite yet, but he wants to interview me tomorrow.

So I might go spend a few weeks in Australia surfing. All I need (I think) is a one-way ticket back to Fiji (before Oct 28) from Oz. I may need a Visa for New Caledonia though.

Good news on the picture front. This cybercafe will allow me to bring my computer in. So I can download the photos from my camera to computer and edit them offline and then upload them here. I could also start composing my blog entries before coming, too. Now I just need a place to do it.

I've already made a habit of visiting McGoons for dinner. Yesterday I brought them ice cream and juice (sodas) as payment. I don't want to spend days there too, especially since there's often no one there. That's one argument in favor of getting a flat. Yesterday's paper also says the just got DSL in Suva too. Even at $100/month it'd be cheaper than $5/hour here.

The only probem with the Yacht trip is that it leaves like on the 15th or 19th or something like that and Dodo and me were planning on going to Kadavu next week when he's out of school for two weeks. It'd be a month in the boat, and a couple weeks in Australia at least, so that'd mean blowing off Fiji mostly, which I was about to do until I decided to spend money.

Tomorrow I'm taking the car back to Nadi too, and will be meeting the realtor to look at properties on the Coral Coast at Maui Bay estates.

Now another realtor just called, so I'm on my way to look at a flat to rent.

Monday, August 08, 2005


I didn't have to go anywhere for this. It's been drizzling all day. Cold and raining and foggy.

Permanently fogged up windshield makes driving dangerous, but I finally drove down to the Royal Suva Yacht Club and checked out the bulletins. There's a catamaran bound for Australia via Vanuatu & New Caledonia next week. I emailed an inquiry about that. Got blown a kiss by a girl walking down the road on the way back. I might head back there for dinner. It looks like good food.

I want to find a place to stay besides the Raintree, because, well... it's a dump. And crowded. But it does have the only toilets in Fiji that flush decently. Bear in mind, that's not "well." They don't really understand the concept of "flush" down here. You just fill the bowl with water and it opens the trap and you hope some of the *** goes down it.

The night security guard is cool, and we chat -- he just barely speaks English. He's sorta FOB, studying at the Fiji Institute of Technology with a music scholarship, I think. He's studying computers but has never seen one before. I'm thinking about going out to his tiny island, Yacata, and checking it out. He says there are also two uninhabited islands in the area, and an exclusive resort just across the lagoon on a private island. He used to work there and has met Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, among other celebrities.

But I haven't found anywhere else. I did my research today, and was going to check out a couple places, but the rain is really a drag, and now I'm an hour and a half into the internet and it's almost 5 (get's dark at 6.) I've spent time looking for realtors, property managers, rentals, property for sale, etc.

There's a little one person sailboat for sale at the yacht club for $450., but where would I put it?

I've been making plans to go to the outer islands, and would also like to look at a couple properties while I'm out there. I'm going to take a trip to Taveuni and Vanua Levu (Savusavu) and maybe work in stops at the security guard's home and Koro Island where there is a subdivision with Americans, etc. living there. The only power and water there is what they generate or collect.

I've decided (nudged by Kelsey) to go ahead and spend alot of money. I figured I might as well go Scuba Diving and re-certify. I admit I'm scared to, but when people hear I've been to Fiji and never went diving there I'll sound kinda stupid. That's one of the place's main draws. It's supposed to be epic, and Taveuni is supposedly one of the best dive spots in the world. Jacques Custeau's son lives in Fiji, for pete's sake. (I may certify with him. He's actually got decent rates.)

I'll buy surfboard (shortboard) if I can get a decent one big enough for a 200 pounder for under $300. I'm not sure how I'll get it back, or if I'll just sell it back. If nothing else, I can paddle around. But I figure I'll treat myself to a few days at Nagigia resort at $50/day plus about the same for meals, and throw in an extra day of deep sea fishing. For those of you I haven't shown it to yet, you can see it at It's the one place (besides Sigatoka, which I haven't seen) that I could probably handle. So say $500 to surf and $500 to dive (certify) and $500 expenses (travel, food, etc.) That's only $1500, which coincidentally, is the amount of money I've bled through already.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Fresh fotos

Spending all day at the internet uploading pictures and arguing with Kelsey. I hate computers.

It looks like the photos are still too big and this internet connection is too slow. If I can use my computer, I can shrink more pics and upload them to the memory in the camera and take them to the more expensive cybercafe and hopefully upload some more.

So much for getting anything done today. I was going to look for a place to stay, call a realtor/property manager, and find out about the properties for sale I was interested in (but am not really interested in anymore.)

I figure my blog postings today have degenerated the more time I've been here. This place is full of kids playing games and shouting.

So that's why I left my last post on a cliff hanger. I'll wait till I learn a bit more to describe it, but if you read this, and you know her, tell Kelsey I'm not as discouraged as I sound in my emails to her.

I think I might have found my island

Don't get me wrong, I'm still discouraged about Fiji, but I think I might have found my island.

Lovo Food

So Sunday I went to church with the McGoons at the Tamavua ward. It was a Fijian speaking ward, so I didn't understand a thing.

But afterwards, we had lovo, which is the traditional food they cook in the ground. Only they didn't cook it in the ground. They used the oven because they didn't have time.

Chicken, Pork, Taro (dalo), Pumpkin, Potatoes, salad. Good food. Layed around all afternoon watching TV and digesting. Watched the Suva rugby & Australian Rugby league. In League, it's only 4 points per try, and two for the extra. Two point penalty kick too. Seems alot more organized too.

I've been at internet too long and haven't got anything done. Fighting to shrink and upload pictures on website. Hope you appreciate this.

At the carwash & in the ruck

Saturday morning I went to the McGoons, but noone was home. I'd stayed the night at the Raintree dorm again.

[Let me tell you, I don't like that place too much. But I haven't found another cheap place yet. I'll work on that today. Spent too much time at the internet already, but kelsey wants pictures.]

So I was regretting getting the car, even though it didn't get stolen Friday night, and I didn't know what to do. I decided to park it at the temple, but wanted the temple president's permission, so I waited an hour there reading the paper and still not feeling like eating, though I had some water. I'd finished the sandwich at the Raintree the night before and went straight to bed. It gets dark around 6 and I'm usually ready for bed by nine, and then don't get up again till 8. I don't sleep well at the raintree cause its damp and the beds smell, and the last few days there's been an old, crazy, spooky looking guy there. I know he's got the girls there nervous, and I don't blame them.

Anyway, finally, president Spenser comes out of the temple around noon. We chat for a bit, I tell him how I'm discouraged about staying in Fiji and pretty much clueless about what I should do next. He tells me there's a carwash being run my the Young Women, so I drive down there after stopping at the store to get some cash. I leave them a twenty. Hey, they vaccumed out the sandy mess the poofter left on the passenger side, so it was worth it.

I got some oranges and a Tarumba and a kit kat and drank the Tarumba while they washed the car. It stayed down, but I was still weak. Probably from not eating much.

Can someone tell me, is KitKat made by Nestle? It is here, which means that the chocolate tastes like poo which ruined it for me.

So I'm about to leave the car at the Temple and catch the bus downtown, when I think to call Sister McGoon to see what time her son Dodo's rugby game is. It's at 4:00pm, but she's leaving now. That doesn't make sense since it's only 1:00pm, but I drive up there.

Oh yeah, while I was waiting for the temple president, I took a drive through Suva, decided that I was correct in not wanting to park downtown, and then drove along Victoria Parade, which goes along the waterfront from downtown to the University of the South Pacific (USP) and then I got lost and drove around till I made it back to Princes Road and back to the temple.

So I meet Sister McGoon, find out that her older son, Christopher, is playing now, so we take a circuitious route back downtown to Albert Park, which used to be open, but now is surrounded by shipping containers so that people can't watch the games unless they pay to get in.

So we pay, $5 each, find out it's the wrong game, leave, go looking for her husband, find his car, get directions from someone else who saw him, and someone else with conflicting directions, and then notice his car (the church van -- a pickup truck, they call them "vans", and the call vans "minibusses") is gone, call him, and then he comes back.

We plan to meet up back at the village (Tamavua village is in the middle of Suva city), and end up waiting a couple hours for him; but it's all good, because that's when Kelsey calls.

When brother McGoon gets back, we all (me, bro & sis McGoon, Tua & her son Tete) pile into my rental car, and head to the national stadium where Dodo's high school team is playing. Parking $3, Tickets $5 apiece on the ground. Another game is in progress, but still interesting. We sit behind the end zone at Sister McGoon's request, so can't see much of the game, but Tete provides much entertainment tackling kids a full head taller than he (and probably half his weight) who are racing and playing mock rugby.

For Dodo (I still don't know his real name) he sits on the bench the first half, but there is no score until the last few minutes when the other team gets two tries.

I think I've got the basics of Rugby down, though there are still some rules I don't know, but I don't know the strategy yet. I'm very suspicious there isn't much of one and alot of the things people do just because that's what's done, not because it's the best strategy.

After the game, we go to see the team to see if Dodo wants to go out to eat with us, my treat. All the players are head down and crying, because they were just eliminated in the quarter finals, so I say, "Heads up, you lost a game, you're not beaten." Dodo decides to (understandably) spend the evening with the team.

So we go to dinner at a Chinese restarant, though I'm still not feeling hungry. We have Sweet Corn soup, Crab in black bean sauce (which ends up leaking in the car when we take home the leftovers), BBQ pork (the red stuff), Chicken fried rice, Mongolian beef, and Cashew Chicken. There's a spinning platter on the table. Brother & Sister McGoon both burn their throats on the hotsauce, he loves the crab, she the pork. Tete loves plain rice, and I have to plead with the waitress to bring a pitcher of water.

Tete is short for Motete, which is someone the same as Mosese, which is Fijian for Moses. Brother McGoon is also named Moses. Did I mention that Tete has a million girlfriends?

Not dead yet

"Bring out your dead!"

"I think I'll go for a walk now."

"You're not fooling anyone."

Okay. It's a few days later, and I am feeling better. Still had a dizzy spell in the store today looking at furniture. There was a nice 5 piece set for around $600. Today is Monday.

So I paid $425 for a rental for a week, which isn't too unreasonable, but it's a lot of money still. It's nice to have a car, but I'm not putting it to good use, and now I have the added worry of what if it gets stolen or damaged. I parked the car at the temple and walked into town to internet today. The long way I mentioned earlier is definitely safer. I had buses and trucks whizzing by within a foot or two of my shoulder (as I walked well off the shoulder) and flinched almost every time.

I picked up my laundry at the Wailoaloa Beach Resort (which is not a resort and doesn't have a beach) and headed to Suva on Friday afternoon. I've since noticed that they didn't return my laundry back (a nylon bag that my camp chair came in) or a pair of shorts. That was critical because it was one of two pairs of shorts that had pockets. I think I'll have to buy a new pair today.

Anyway, I got a chicken sandwich from the hotel restaurant, which shockingly tasted good, and ate half of it with a sprite as I was driving from Nadi to Sigatoka. (I think I'll look for a map to post here.) The fries that came with it were homemade and fresh and greasy and good when they were warm. I managed to keep that down, although I didn't have the appetite to eat the rest of it.

I went exploring around Natadola -- the pictures with Jane at the beach last time I was in fiji was at Natadola. It was voted one of the 10 best beaches in the world one year. It's nice, but I don't know if it's that nice. Anyway, it's quite secluded, although there are always some locals from the village there trying to sell you beads or coconuts. There were also some Americans there. Apparently they'd taken a boat out and were surfing. It sure looks pretty. I have a few crummy pictures I'll try to post.

I bought a coconut and some beads. Maybe I'll even give Monica her birthday present. Tell Jenna & Cathy that, anyone who knows them.

On the other side of the river (where the beach isn't quite so nice, since it's still got a fringing reef) there's a lot of land being cleared and some muddy tracks, which of course I had to follow in the rental, that end in dead ends on an old sugar cane train track. I parked the car, crossed the track, and found a trail through the thicket to the beach. It's still a nice beach, white, with a lot of broken corals. I think it's going to become a really big resort, which is a shame because Natadola is a public, and fairly secluded beach, and once the resort goes in, we'll probably lose that. There's a small upscale resort there already, but it's off the beaten track, and the last mile is a bad dirt road, though it's been paved and a good bridge built since last year. They were working on it then, though.

[Camera battery died after transferring 3 pics. Try other battery, other strategy. Been here over an hour already! ]

Anyway. I met a lady fishing for Octopus, Terisi (Theresa), and got her picture. She was "frightened for [my] rental" so I went back. I'd like to head back to Natadola sometime. But I can't afford to stay in the resort there.

So, it was after 4 when I left Natadola, and I made only one other stop; at Sigatoka river mouth, looking for fiji's only purported beach break. I didn't find it, but I saw the dunes, which were huge -- 50 to 100 feet. I'll probably have to climb them to see the shore, and the place, club Masa, where the guidebooks says you can stay looked like a seedy store in a tin shed.

It was getting late, so I didn't stay to investigate (didn't have a surf board either, but maybe I'll buy one in Nadi for about $200 -- a shortboard, though I don't know if I can ride one. Maybe if I lose weight.) But a local flagged me down thinking I was a taxi. I stopped, figuring I could get some intel on the area.

Dude hops in and says "thank you, I was late for my practice" (He was carrying a soccer ball.) But it was a poofter. This time a Fijian, not an Indian. All you could tell was because of the voice and makeup and sissy gestures, etc. I had no way of knowing from the back when I stopped.

So I didn't feel like making too much conversation, dropped him off in town, got giggled at by local girls we passed. I can only hope the gay will defend my honor from the local girls.

Two more hours driving, and then it gets dark before I get to Pacific Harbor. Aiyee! Zero visibility, and then it starts raining. It's too traumatic to talk about, but if I had a gun, I wouldn't have been aiming at headlights, I'd be aiming at the people who refused to dim them. I won't make that drive at night again.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I don't know if it's just because of the sickness, and some basic discouragement, but I feel like I've seen all I want to see. I'd still like to go to the outer islands, but it isn't as big of a draw for me anymore. I guess the way I'd really like to do it is to have my own boat and cruise around wherever I want. I've thought about taking a trip to the Yasawas (the tourist islands, the pretty part of Fiji) but I'm beginning to feel that I'd rather spend my money doing other things.

An extended road trip down the west coast sounds like a lot of fun to me right now. You really don't enjoy doing things unless you have others to share it with. Of course, I'd also like to spend some time alone to work out what I want to do, but not particularly in Fiji. I'd like relative security, and some creature comforts like TV, and expecially a good food selection.

I knew it would probably be a tough start, but I feel like all I'd be doing is marking time and spending money here. I'm thinking about going to Australia or some of the other islands, like maybe Tonga. I'll give it another week, before I decide, but it makes it tough, because now I can't settle down, and even though I've already got a phone with a plan, I don't have a place to stay or many contacts. Even if I could find the right piece of land, I don't think I have enough cash to develop it right, and I don't really feel like living in Fiji is what I want.

I've got friends in Seattle, family in Montana, and a guide to take me surfing in Mexico, who seems to love me. Mostly I thought about being with her when I was sick. And I'm not feeling too good now, either. Maybe I'll have more enthusiasm when I've got my strength back.

I want my mommy

I was sick all day yesterday. Still a bit weak today. I didn't eat anything except an orange, some M&Ms and a few Ritz crackers for breakfast. Tried to sleep all day, but exhausted my reading material instead. Tried a few gulps of Tarumba (like Sunny Delight, but good -- orange/banana is my favorite) but it didn't sit well.

Finally went swimming after a nap in the afternoon in the small pool at the hotel. I was still feeling bloated and almost threw up the juice while swimming. Floated for a while and then tried to dry out. It was only like 70 and windy all day, so I had a chill after swimming in the unheated, not chlorinated enough pool.

It think it was good to get some exercise, but maybe it didn't help.

I woke up from my nap when a truck rumbled by on the dirt road right by my window (also did I mention I'm right under the departure path for planes.) I'd been dreaming about playing football, just a pickup game in the park type, and the rumble of the truck coincided with a crush of players on me in my dream. Scared the bejeebus out of me.

Finished my George Washington biography, finished reading the economist. Looked through Kelsey's pictures and missed her.

I tried drinking a Sprite for dinner to replenish fluids and get some carbs in me. But it didn't stay down long. Also looked like my breakfast was still in my stomach, undigested. I'd eaten the whole pizza the night before (about a 10 incher) and it was fairly good except the pepperoni was burnt to a crisp. Also had a pawpaw (papaya) I immediately felt bloated, having skipped lunch and gorged myself for dinner. The impression I had was that I was having trouble passing it through my system. Even though I had diarrhea, not much was coming out. (Sorry for grossing out any readers, but I'm writing for myself more than anyone else.)

Anyway, I finished off the Sprite (about 1/4 left) about 3 in the morning when some jerks having a Kava session (drinking the local grog, a mild narcotic, and talking very loud and stupidly. No, I couldn't understand them, but you can tell when people are stupid in any language.) woke me up. It stayed down, but still didn't sit well. This morning I had some Tarumba juice and it stayed down, but I'm still feeling light headed. I went for a walk earlier (about 7) and felt okay, but then I broke into a sweat clipping my toe nails.

I plan on renting a car to go to Suva again today and look for a place to stay. I can leave my laptop & big bag at McGoons, I hope.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Still haven't gone swimming

I just got off the bus from Suva to Nadi and ordered a pizza. It was a long long ride, about 5 hours. So now I've got 20 minutes to wait for the pizza and then a cab ride home. $2 buys twenty minutes internet.

I haven't heard from Bishop Matatogia about family history. I should probably have been here yesterday if I wanted to do anything. But I found out at 3:00 that they were meeting at 5:30 and it would still take 3 hours minimum even if I were driving. I think I will take a rental back to Suva, but I could just use a couple days to relax and do nothing.

I still haven't gone swimming.

And I've got a bunch of fresh wounds on my ankles from scratching moquito bites. You don't feel them until after they're gone.

I spent some time on the bus (smaller seats than an airplane) reading the travel guide I finally obtained. It might be fun to go to all the resorts along the Coral Coast (south coast of Viti Levu, the main island), just get off the bus when I feel like it, but that would probably average $40 a day plus meals.

I'd really like a place to call my own, but am still hesistant about getting a flat, first of all, where.. .Nadi or Suva, and second of all, what about breakins? I could leave my computer with McGoons in Suva, and maybe let someone stay if I go to the outer islands. But crime is worse in Suva than Nadi, and if I end up helping in Family History Library here (seems less likely) it'd be quite a commute.

then there's the possibility of moving on. I hear they have real surf in Australia, and I've always wanted to go. Airfare's only about $300 from here, one way. That's Fiji Dollars.

Time for pizza.


at the Raintree was good.

I had a pancake with fried bananas and bacon (ham) and chives on top. There's a lake (muddy pond there) and there are thousands of fish poking their heads up (breathing?) and looking like their begging for scraps. I fed them my gum while I waited for breakfast. Tried to take a couple pictures, but I don't think it will show anything.

Now that I've got a transformer I can plug in my computer when I get back to Nadi, figure out how to download pictures, and maybe post a few.

Don't know much about geneology

but I spent an hour in the Suva Family History center this morning dinking around with the computer. I don't think anyone there knows what they're doing really either. It looks like they have a network, but the computers aren't on it (I think). They have a collection of CDs (like about 100) dating from 1992, but none of my ancestors are on it, either. At least that I could find. It looks like a really scant record, and maybe it's just a really old version of the program, but it's primitive. I could write something better in a couple weeks, including reverse engineering the data into a usable form.

I don't know if the lady I asked for instructions knows what's up either, but she talked about estimating marriage dates based on childrens birth dates, and I don't know how to make sense of the hard copy records at all. I went through the tutorial, which is mostly about how to use the arrow keys and page up/page down.

I'll have a lot to learn if I'm going to be any help at all. Maybe I can get the libraries on the internet or something. I don't even know if geneology libraries are supposed to be connected to a central online database or what. I know the (possibly formerly?) free web geneology sites I've seen are much friendlier and useful, and they actually have some data to work with.


Yesterday afternoon I talked with Temple President Spencer and had his home made slushies and managed to corporate espionage the recipe, so I can get rich off that if spending all my money on dormitories and power converters in Fiji doesn't pan out.

Sister Spenser is the spitting image of her sister, Sister Maxfield (aka Annie aka Clipper) only with grayer hair. I know how she got the name "Clipper", too.

Bummed dinner off the McGoons again (I owe them two dinners now) spent the night at the Raintree again. Walked from the family history center (by the temple) to downtown because there weren't any busses passing me. Only I took the long way. Regular was probably about 2 miles, but I knew it went out of the way, so I went straight and added at least another mile to the journey.

Taking the bus back to Nadi to get the rest of my stuff and talk to the bishop of the Nadi ward again. Still no plans, but I can probably leave junk at the McGoons ifn I travel.

Thinking about hitching rides not just to the outer islands, but maybe Tonga, other countries, and maybe even NZ or Australia if I get bored. But then I'd be wasting money on renting a permanent residence. (and a fiji phone)

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rolling with the detectives

I got up early, before sunrise, and took some random photos around the Raintree. I'm remembering that I'm not a natural photographer, and I have to think about it to take pictures at all. Checked out and caught the bus down to Suva with a Korean dive instructor I met there. He wanted me to spell out math problems like

15 + 60 = 75 "Fifteen plus Sixty equals Seventy Five"
25 * 25 = 65 "That's not right, it's Six Hundred Twenty Five"


At least I think that's what he wanted.

Breakfast at the Raintree sounded good, lots of fried or mashed bananas, but expensive. The bus driver overcharged me as usual, but I don't argue. Once I get into downtown Suva, I look for the Drua (a phone booth.) The detective wants me to call him -- presumably to make sure I'm okay. I call, but he's not at the office.

I buy a donut, meet a sword seller (in Nadi they're drug dealers, people that want to be your friend), look for flip flops, go to the bank to try to get my money situation straightened out. The ATM ends up working though, giving me $400 in mostly 10s. I change the 10s for 50s at the teller and wait in the New Accounts line reading the paper. Then at 11, I give up and head to the Vodaphone (mobile phone company) for an appointment about opening an account.

Outside Vodaphone, I meet the cop (he had arranged to meet me there if I didn't call.) So I sign up and we go looking for black market phones. A four door 4x4 and I hop in with three non-uniform cops and cruise the back streets for a phone.

Turns out it's almost as expensive to buy a new one. I think when he originally offered to find me a black market phone, he meant one with a SIM chip already in it (i.e., the calls would be free for me.) Little does he know I'm the Serpico of bumbling palangi's.

So I get a new phone, email me for my number if you want it, and the cop's buddies show up and they roll off.

Chuki is gone

I get off the bus at the Temple, and walk up to the temple president's house to give them Brother & Sister Maxfield's greetings. Sister Spencer (the temple president's wife) is Sister Maxfield's (the councellor in the Bellevue Bishopric's wife) sister.

Nobody home, but of course there are a couple of temple grounds crew out and a man comes up to me. He tells me I just missed them. Oh well, I'll try again tomorrow (today.) That's where I'm headed after this, and lunch.

So I walk up to Tamavua village. It's threatening rain. And it's alot further than I remember. Over a mile, at least. Well, it's almost dark, the kids are out playing touch rugby, and when I get to the village everyone is friendly. It's an odd fact that the uglier a palangi is, the more attractive he is to Fijian girls. Remembering this is a dangerous place, I ask first if the house I'm heading towards is Moses McGoon's. Yes, of course it is.

I knock on the door, and there is Vili (?) aka Tua (?), Jane's sister in law who had a newborn time I was here. Of course I didn't remember her name, but luckily she remembered mine. She had seemed shy before, but now she was quite friendly. Yes, Bishop McGoon was here. He was sleeping. Should I wake him? No, he came home early from work and had to go to the doctor. An ear infection.

So I hear Jane is in New Zealand. Yes, Chuki (chuki means chicken, and is her father's pet name for Jane. Her younger brother is Dodo. Yes, the bird. Her older brother is Christopher, Vili's husband.) is gone, you just missed her. No, she didn't go to school.

Turns out Jane got married. She left last week. She married a palangi from New Zealand, a non-member. They met a while after I left, and were married at a resort in May. She'd been waiting for her visa to travel to New Zealand, which was denied before they were married. She's pregnant now and her mom will go to visit her when the baby comes.

Jane's mother comes home and she is happy to see me. Nothing is awkward, athough it might have been with Jane. She almost wanted to stay to see me instead of go to New Zealand with her husband.

So Chuki is gone. I am a little sad, but I hope she is happy. Her friend Moto is gone too, so now I don't have any friends who can play with me. Well, Jane's cousin is from Kadavu, she wants to be my tour guide. Maybe I'll meet her. I also want to play rugby with Dodo (I don't remember his real name) and his friends. I think Dodo is about 18. He was smaller than me last year, but he's bigger now. He wants to go to the US to play football.

Vili's baby is bigger now too. He is one year and nine months, fluent in Fijian and English (speaks mostly Fijian but understands both.) And big enough to pass as a four year old.

When papa McGoon wakes up, we have dinner: sausages, cucumber salad, and taro with tomato sauce. More catching up, and he offers to let me stay at their house. As long as I want. I say maybe sometime. They give me a ride to the Raintree Lodge, a backpacker place in the forest just outside the city.
When Brother

The poofter, the cabbie, the cop and me

all set out for Suva together. After my last post, I went to the bus station to get a ticket to Suva. The ticket cost $11.90, the guy in the office said, but I knew it should only be $6. On further reflection, maybe that was only the sunrise special. Anyway, there was a half hour till the next bus came, so I set out looking for a minibus (minivan) to see what they charge, because I knew it would be quicker.

Cab drivers kept bugging me for a fare, but I always said, "Suva, $20" and that kept them quiet. Finally one said he'd do it for $17. But it turned out that he wouldn't do it, his friend would, and he wanted four passengers. An older couple got in with me, and then when they got fed up, they left. So I sat around and chatted with the cabbie for a while waiting for them to "come back after they get money" as the cab driver claimed.

We made small talk, where are you from, etc. When he found out I was single, he asked I'd marry an Indian girl. I said maybe if she was the right girl for me. Turns out he has three daughters, and how much money do I make. Unemployed. Oh, nevermind then.

Half an hour passed and I missed my bus. I was getting tired of this cabbie, but then he said, okay, here comes one, now we go. Turned out to be the ugliest transvestite in the world. I mean, he'd've been prettier as a man. Not that he was really trying. He had about 2 days stubble, and looked like a very ugly man with a scarf and makeup, wearing mens clothes. After a couple minutes more waiting, I walked off to the bus ticket booth. Of course it was another hour till the next bus, and it was already 12:30 pm.

So the guy hollers at me that we leave now, and I give him one more chance. The poofter is gone, and another man is standing next to him. I thought he was another cab driver. They hang out in clans. But he claimed to be an undercover police officer (wearing a tshirt that has a police logo on it.) So we chat a while, and finally the cabbie says, we go.

Still skeptical, I follow him. He motions to get in the car, and the poofter is in the front seat. I get in one side, the cop in the other, and we're off!

Neh, it's time to stop at the grocery store. After 10 minutes the cop goes in after the cabbie. After 5 more minutes, I go in after the cop and joke, let's get one more fare and leave him. Just then the driver comes out and we're off!

Neh, it's to the gas station. Only the cabbie apparently isnt' very familiar with how the place works, going in the wrong way, etc. Finally, we get gas and we're off!

Neh, it's back to the bus stop to see if the cabbie's friends have found him another fare. They wave him off, and would you believe it? This time we're really off.

I say, "You know the bus has passed Sigatoka by now." I've been saying snide stuff like this for a while now. (Sigatoka, pronounced sing-a-toke-a is about 1/3 of the way to Suva, or about 1 hour of straight driving, at least 1 & 1/2 by bus.)

We pick up and drop off several short termers along the way, and finally we get to Sigatoka and stop for lunch. I didn't want anything, but decide to get a couple bananas even though the don't look good. Then the cop offers to buy me a coke. By now, he's shown me his badge (which looks like a laminated high school student ID) and I'm starting to believe he's a real cop. This was when I joked that detective must not be a very good job if he has to ride the cab.

The poofter has to stop at every roadside vendor and pick up some cucumbers, mostly green tomatoes, habaneros, and finally shrimp. The cop jokes with the cabbie that they must know each other. The cabbie swears this is the first time he's ever seen the poofter. The poofter smokes all the way, but asks politely if anyone minds before he lights up, until one lady we picked up in a village obvious does mind. I think the cold from me leaving down the window bothered her more.

When we get to Suva, it's everyone out, but now the cop is concerned about what I'm doing, where I'm staying, etc. Now I smell a rat. Friendly + curious = trying to sell you something == trying to con you.

I've decided the cop is okay, now that he seems to know everyone, incl. uniformed cops. He wants to know what I'm doing next. I say that I need to go to the bank because the ATM won't take my card. But the bank closed at three.

So I say I want to find a book shop to find a travel book. He follows me to two, and surpringinly the second shop not only has it, but accepts credit cards. Welcome to Suva, the modern third world! We're not in Nadi (or Libby) anymore.

After that, I say I'm going to see my friends in Tamavua village. He almost doesn't want to say goodbye when I get on the bus. I think the guy was scared about the poor tourist. Maybe I look like the biggest softed palangi out there and maybe I am, but at least knowing I look like it gives me a step up. I'm Columbo or Inspector Clouseau.

Turns out that Tamavua is a dangerous area. The bad part of the city.